- Spoken Introduction
- Ye tuneful numbers, a song with symphony, for voice & continuo
British countertenor Iestyn Davies has generally been heard in ensemble situations but has begun to make a distinctive mark with well thought-out solo recitals. This one provides an especially nice niche for him. He doesn't have the slightly mysterious soprano-like sound of a Philippe Jaroussky, but he engages strongly with the text, and he picks a program in such a way as to set a historical scene convincingly. Here he mixes familiar Purcell songs, each delivered with freshness and understanding, with lesser-known pieces like William Croft's "Ye tuneful Numbers: A song with symphonies." These "symphonies" include both a free-standing introduction and good-sized instrumental preludes to the individual songs, and the entire program shows a variety of composers in Restoration late 17th century England experimenting with the new sounds-extended arias or "airs," edifices erected atop ground basses, concerted instrumental groupings-coming from Italy, and merging them with the older and more melancholy English traditions. Davies' work here with keyboardist Richard Egarr and an instrumental group designated only as "friends" has a relaxed quality that comes only from deep contemplation of the music, and the reaction of the Wigmore Hall crowd, captured nicely by the spoken remarks of Davies at the end, shows that the listeners were deeply involved in the program. Listeners will be as well.